Social media influencers, those fitness gurus and beauty bloggers, are becoming the new ‘celebrity’. Thousands of young people follow their every move and consider them ‘goals’.
Twenty-two-year-old Brodie Shea Smith has accumulated nearly 20,000 followers on Instagram and thousands more on Tumblr since opening her accounts years ago.
“It all started years ago when I had my Tumblr linked to my Instagram and I was getting an influx of anonymous questions, mainly relating to things like diet, workout routine, makeup products, fashion etc.. but I think it was because I was quite happy to answer so many questions detailed and honestly, that people started asking me for a lot of advice,” she said.
“The more I opened up about myself the more people started to almost rely on me for setting them straight and helping them with their problems.”
While the mass of people asking for advice and tips was flattering for Brodie, she found it overwhelming an had to stop using her Tumblr account.
“I actually didn’t deal with it very well and it caused me a world of stress and anxiety to the point where I just completely gave up on Tumblr. I ended up just explaining that in no way am I qualified and everything I said was just an opinion, and I honestly just couldn’t keep up with the demand of questions I was getting every day,” she said.
“(It was) flattering in a way to know that my advice was so sought after but unnerving to know how many people were seeking my advice as opposed to a professional.”
Some, if not most, social media influencers will use their following for product promotion and marketing, making their followers envious of the lives it looks like the influencers are living. But Brodie said she didn’t want to follow this trend.
“I tend to try to stay as true to myself as possible and forget about the ideals that society makes us believe we need to do and be. I never have wanted to fall into a social media puddle of product promotion and marketing so I steer clear of that. I’m more happy to post photos of my real life and not a false reality that a lot tend to lead,” she said.
Unlike many social media users, she has decided to use the platform to promote and create self love and female empowerment, which means people find her posts easy to look up to.
Instead of promoting skinny teas and protein brands, you’ll see her speaking and writing so passionately about the things closest to her heart; self-empowerment and creating awareness for mental health.
“I’m an open and honest person, but it took me a while to be that way – for a long while I acted very detached to the things I have been and are going through, but it kind of just hit me one day that I was doing exactly what I wish others wouldn’t do, so I began voicing my hardships – mental illness, eating disorders, binge drinking and everything in between,” she said.
“I’m lucky enough to have come out the other side and along the way accumulated the platform I have to be able to speak to an audience of people from every age and talk about the stuff that really does need to be spoken about. if I can touch one other soul from speaking about my experiences then I consider that a triumph.”
Even though she’s gained quite a following, Brodie believes the ideals social media creates for younger people can be detrimental to their self-confidence.
“They (influencers) are doing everything entirely for their social media profile and nothing truly for themselves and I think it’s negatively impacting on everyone scrolling through social media and seeing ‘candid’ photos of influencers and wondering to themselves ‘why isn’t my life like that?’ When deep down we know those people are just the same as you and I, they go through ups and downs and deal with things just the same as we do,” she said.
Rather than accepting royalties from promoting a clothing label, business savvy Brodie has set off on a new venture and is about to open an online apparel store called Caroline Co. However, it’s more to her than just a simple clothing label.
“Basically it’s a women’s apparel brand, doing basic tees and accessories but everything will be all limited edition – the real concept behind it all and the part that really means so much to me is all about self love and having the confidence to be a bit of a bad girl,” she said.
Along side the label will be a blog with beliefs and concepts of girls she believes deserve to be listened to.
It’s rare to find a young adult, in this day and age where social media rules all, that is willing to promote empowerment, stay true to herself and avoid being used as a marketing tool, which is what makes Brodie so unique and someone that young girls should be taking note of.